Feelings by Cephas Ortiz

My son is happy. The kid wakes up happy and goes about his day in the same manner. Even on harder days, he always has a smile. His kindergarten teacher hopes he never outgrows it. I hope with her. This was a school project he did. My husband pointed out that regardless of the emotion he was supposed to be drawing, someone on the page is smiling. I thought it would be fun to share on a Monday. Who couldn’t use a little extra sunshine on a Monday morning? After using more words than allotted in a day for correction, I need this too. He is all boy…active and testing every boundary…and he is always happy.

Have a happy Monday everyone!


Dynamic Duo – 7 and James

I already wrote a blog post about the book 7: The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. You can read it here. I loved that book!

Right now, I am going through a new bible study by Beth Moore. James: Mercy Triumphs. I’m only two weeks in and I love every page…even the one that went into detail about the word “consider” in the verse “consider it all joy”. You will never read it the same way again. I think that is what we are supposed to get out of bible study. This is my first Beth Moore study so pardon me as I oh and awe over the detail and amount of extraction of each verse.

I decided to do a whole post on why I love it and why I recommend 7 and James as a world rocking combination. If you were to decide to read the book and go through the study at the same time, I would call you brilliant and ask to be your friend…if you aren’t already because for the most part that’s who reads what I write anyway. I love you all for it. Hi Mom!

For me, reading 7 prepared my heart to really receive everything I’m studying in James. I imagine, if you are already studying James, that reading 7 would help to put feet to what you just studied.

I could go on and on about these two. I’d rather practice being succinct and plead with you to go get these two and go for it.

Do it! I triple dog dare you.

“Have the courage to live under strain and pain to be part of a better story.

A larger story.

Don’t wimp out” – Beth Moore

When Life Requires…

Confession – I prayed a prayer last week that caught me off guard. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, a bit of my heart was revealed to me. I was surprised by it. A gasp and a quick look around to see if anyone could have heard me (as I was walking through a parking lot). I decided to share it with you.

Let me explain.

First of all, right now as a church, we are in the middle (literally) of 30 days of prayer and fasting. I won’t tell you exactly what I am fasting but I am. Have I mentioned that I work at Chili’s? That automatically means I’m confronted every minute of my time at work with “get behind me satan” foods/beverages/attitudes…cough cough (never mine…no not me…never).

One very true thing about fasting is that in giving up something, there is a greater amount of sensitivity. “Discomfort creates space for the Holy Spirit to move” (this is where I once again recommend 7 by Jen Hatmaker). Our strengths are challenged, our habits are evaluated, our time management gets scrutinized and our time in prayer and the Word grows. This time has been unique. Granted, this whole season of our lives is new to us, so this comes by no surprise. Prior to the grandiose calendar change, I knew this time was coming…and I was so ready for it. I’ve never felt so compelled into a time of prayer and fasting as I have this one. Ever!

Back to my prayer –

In the middle of praying, I said this to God. “I’m tired of everything in life requiring a miracle”.

I said it. I couldn’t take the words back. The only one I was talking to was God. I know He heard it. He knew it before I said it (He loves me anyway…gasp!). It was honestly something I couldn’t believe I said. I confessed this to a friend who said “hey, it’s honest”. I kind of laugh at myself but I still didn’t like it.

I’ve prayed the prayer “God, I don’t want a normal life”. I prayed it often as a teenager. My husband reminds me that I got what I asked God for 🙂 It has been full. I’m glad that it doesn’t show signs of slowing down. The dependency on God grows…it stretches us to pieces in the process. Oh sweet grace! There have been moments significantly harder than others and many far more precious than I could have ever dreamed. In all of this, I will say that my God is faithful and He does not fail…even when I do…even when the prayers that fly out of my mouth are as honest as “seriously, this is hard…why”

Life does require miracles. In my moments of fear and doubt, God still loves and He is still faithful. He has led us to this place. He has seared this vision in our hearts and minds. He compels us and we do. We trust. He does not fail.

Days That Mark Us – 10yrs today

Today is January 19, 2012

There are days that mark you forever. I’m not saying that you just get one of those days. We have several, those days where something in life shifts and nothing is ever the same. I’m glad to say this particular day is a good one. Sometimes you don’t immediately recognize the weight of what that holds till years later. I knew that this particular day marked me. I knew that it was special. I knew I would never forget it. Thanks to my journal that has always been there to record all of life’s thoughts…I have details of this day recorded. The prayers that were prayed that day are forever etched in my brain. I didn’t know it would grow to mean as much as it does.

That day was January 19, 2002

That was 10 years ago today!

Today marks the first time Ray and I ever led worship together. This means that today marks 10 years of ministry together. I didn’t know that being able to look back on this day would mean this much.

Today marks a day where I got a nice little drop kick out of my comfort zone and life was NEVER the same. I’m rarely left speechless. This day left me speechless.

Today marks 10 years of knowing Pastor Jaycee and Anna Jennings. That day, Jaycee said “we are your pastors”…and a bunch of other stuff 🙂 They have been dear friends, mentors, source of wisdom and counsel. I’m grateful for every phone conversation with Anna and how they remind me that I’m not crazy…or at least not alone in my insanity. They have blessed the lives of many and we are so grateful for them.

So today is a big deal to me. I wanted to share that with you. 10 years of anything is a big deal.

Life continues to be full of moments that cause a shift. Today, I celebrate this one 🙂



Do! Other options are unnecessary (Yoda said it better)

I’ve given up…

I’ve given in…

There is no changing them…

My children teach me many things on a very regular basis. As of lately, I’ve seen how they are a picture of action. They are active, they are busy, they are doers and there is no changing that. Hearing is important. They get in trouble for not listening. This is about doing…and my kids love to do. Is it a coincidence that I had to delete “love” the first time? I typed “live”. Both are appropriate.

They don’t just sit to watch a movie. There are few “quiet time” movies anymore. They act it out, sing along or do this…

Yes, this is my daughter with a light saber. I’m not sure if this is normal, but it’s my normal. I pretty sure that awesome woman I call “Mom” is familiar with such activity. Blame me.

This is how they watch the David Crowder Band Remedy Tour DVD…

When we get to McCallum to set up for service on a Sunday morning, the first thing Cephas asks is “can I go help the boys”? This means, he wants to move chairs and cafeteria tables…and they put him to work (thanks guys).

This is Cephas’ worship practice spot (just during practice…for now). There is no telling him otherwise.

I used to try to get them to sit in the hallway while I help turn computer labs into a child care/children’s church area. I swear I wore myself out trying to get them to just sit. Sit doesn’t just happen…

I give up. I have more energy. They don’t tune me out before 8:45am and they get to “help”. I let them play a part. Imagine that. It took me a little bit to realize they weren’t giving me another option. I’ve decided to just go with it. Now Sophia helps with chairs and nursery set up till Grandma arrives…then she forgets I’m there.

All this cuteness is for one reason; to inform you that my kids have taught me something else. I’m learning to lead them. I’m learning how to lead them by taking cues from them. They have taught me things about “doing”…and I’m learning to let them do.


Song Story – Beautiful Things

It isn’t a rare thing when a song gets my attention. Music does that. It speaks. Often times, it speaks to something so deep on the inside of us that it breaks us.

For proof that this has been happening long before U2…read the whole bible, it’s all over. Music is a powerful thing.

This is a song that has been doing that to me lately. It’s not new. It’s one I have heard quite a bit over the last year. The more I listen, the more it breaks me, the more real the words are. This song sums up life 🙂

God is good. He makes beautiful things out of the dust. He makes beautiful things out of us.

Beautiful Things



Pardon me, as my blog is being silly and wouldn’t let me post the video on my site.

Gutsy Prayer

“Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”

Psalm 139:23-24

I went to bed on Friday night with this verse on repeat in my head. I woke up with the same verse on rotation.

I’ve read this chapter a thousand times. I love it. I’ve known this chapter in Psalms by heart since I was 12 yrs old (thanks Mom). I’ve reminded myself on my worst days that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and there is no where I can go where God can’t.

I get stuck on certain passages of scripture from time to time. I wasn’t even reading Psalms in this particular moment, but this wasn’t going away. I closed my eyes and prayed the last two verses. I continue to.

I assure you, I have become painfully aware at what these words are asking.

Dear God,

Search me

Test me

See me

Lead me

When David says this, it is in closing of him proclaiming how long God has seen him, how much He loves him and how He relentlessly pursues him. There is no safer place to say a gutsy “search me, test me, see me, lead me” prayer. I love how David records how he asks God to do away with his enemies in the midst of this. He could have left that part out and sounded more holy but he didn’t.

I have anxious thoughts, there are indeed offensive ways in me (shocker, I know) and when I ask God to search my heart, I know that it’s not a white fluffy cloud of purity, complete with flying angels. I knew this before late Friday night. God knows this too. God loves us enough to show us the things we don’t see in ourselves. Can it be a tad uncomfortable? Indeed! Good news is, you’ll live and will do so with less junk. It’s a good deal.

Pray the prayers…don’t fear the outcome of being shown your heart by your gracious and loving God.

Don’t be surprised if your convictions shift. Don’t be surprised when your heart feels pricked (or shaken) by things, situations, people…that it never has before. Don’t be surprised when for the first time you feel more than inspired, you are compelled to do something.

With that – pray with me…

7: The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess – a book review

I’ve had every intention of posting 9 times between January 1st and now. There goes that resolution. After reading this book, I’m convinced there was no better book to start out a new year. Given where life is, where it has been, the questions, the frustrations…God knew…and this was a great way to kick off 2012.

I’ve recommended books on here before but I’ve never reviewed one. That changes today.


I knew this one was coming. I knew it would strike a chord with me. The title didn’t scare me (although it got my attention). After reading the title, I welcomed whatever challenge it may present me with. Fact – if the author’s last name is Hatmaker, I’m gonna read it.

7: The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess’ by Jen Hatmaker

I loved this book!

While I anticipated some of what this book offered, there was a good bit of it that took me completely by surprise. It went way deeper than the “stuff” and went so much into what the stuff represented. Even more than that, it pricks at our core questions. The belief that there is more to the life that Jesus came to give us…and by more, I do not mean more stuff. That “life abundantly” stuff holds a far greater significance than we have lived out. How do we express that to others? What is our responsibility? How we purchase, what we purchase and what we don’t says more than we realize. This book got me thinking and praying…a lot. Honestly, it got me as much on fasting as it did on the excess. Reading this felt like an invitation to join in on a crazy train of a journey. I accept!

Every chapter struck something different. Just when I thought a chapter was my favorite, the next offered something different. By the end, I realized each chapter builds on last. This was not a “how-to” or a guilt-ridden rant. This was full of honesty, hilarity, humility, practicality and some darn good writing.

I did not finish reading 7 feeling simply inspired. I’m up to my eyeballs with inspiration and that just leads to me in tears, frustrated out of my mind and unable to go to the movies for fear of further motionless inspiration. Give me something to do with that inspiration. This is someone writing about the questions we all ask and pursuing a different way (and taking her family along for the ride). Seriously, the honesty and practicality will give you somewhere to start. That means a lot to my over-active brain.

Buy it for yourself. Buy it for a friend. If you are afraid the title will offend someone, get guts like my Mom. One year, she gave every man in my family ‘So You Call Yourself a Man’ by TD Jakes…for Christmas! They will thank you for it, and you’ll have more guts for doing so.

Read…enjoy…and join the crazy train!